Capacity Building & Prevention

Perhaps the best and easiest way to manage conflict is to prevent it in the first place. Increasing the capacity of systems and individuals to meaningfully collaborate and problem-solve offers a proactive strategy for conflict management. Here we review leading preventative alternatives.

All parents can and should participate meaningfully in their children’s education, including those whose children receive special education services. Research demonstrates that parent/family involvement significantly contributes to improved student outcomes. Engagement between family members and educators is seen through coordinated efforts as well as joint agenda setting and decision-making and is evidenced by higher levels of trust.

Practices:

Home Works! trains, supports and pays teachers to conduct home visits, and is designed to improve academic achievement, attendance and classroom behavior.

The Connecticut School-Family-Community Partnerships Project helps educators, parents and community members develop partnerships by providing training, topical workshops, a newsletter, and a collection of books, videos and other resources.
Sharing the Commitment to Excellence is a collaborative project that has been created to foster effective partnerships between parents, schools, and the community.
The Special Education Community Advisory Committee and Howard County Publc School System encourage and welcome parent involvement in every phase of a child's educational journey. In the area of special education, parent involvement is crucial.

Stakeholder training is aimed at equipping stakeholders - parents, educators, service providers, advocates and others - with skills that enhance their capacity to communicate, negotiate and prevent conflict from escalating. A wide variety of topics may be included in the training curriculum and the learning setting can vary from short workshops provided to small groups, to all-day courses provided at state-wide conferences. 

Practices:

The Office for Dispute Resolution has provided conflict resolution training since 2002. More recently, in 2008, ODR joined a national effort led by CADRE and the IDEA Partnership to build capacity for early dispute resolution by implementing “Creating Agreement in Special Education: Conflict Resolution Training for Parents and Educators”. ODR has been the lead state in the nation for its investment in delivering Creating Agreement training to school and family communities across the commonwealth, and has trained in excess of 2,000 participants.
“RESPECT”, an acronym for ‘Recognizing Everyone's Strengths by Peacebuilding, Empathizing, Communicating and Trustbuilding’, addresses conflict in its relational context and has been taught to special education administrators, educators, service providers, parents and others throughout Iowa for over fourteen years. The primary goal of this program is to enhance learning for students receiving special education services by respectfully and creatively building and growing relationships between educators and family members of IEP teams.
The Connecticut School-Family-Community Partnerships Project helps educators, parents and community members develop partnerships by providing training, topical workshops, a newsletter, and a collection of books, videos and other resources.
Learning or refreshing collaborative communication and dispute resolution skills can help parents and educators work together effectively for the benefit of children with disabilities. These skills can help improve the quality of Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs), Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), resolution meetings, and mediation sessions.
A variety of trainings and coaching activities for parents, mentors, advocates and educators have been developed and offered over the past ten years. The training topic areas include communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, dealing with difficult dynamics, effective IEP meeting strategies, and how to facilitate IEP meetings.

A Stakeholder Council advises education system administrators and dispute resolution program managers on the development of policies and procedures that regulate the system. Such councils provide ongoing input from a variety of perspectives to help guide and influence the functioning and improvement of dispute resolution systems. The group typically includes representatives from parent and advocacy organizations, special education administrators, attorneys, and dispute resolution practitioners. In some cases, a stakeholder council is a sub-committee of the state’s special education advisory committee; in other cases it is a free-standing entity. 

Practices:

An Advisory Council has been established to provide input, from the viewpoints of various stakeholders, on the development of policies and procedures that regulate mediation and the due process hearing system. The policies and procedures formulated by the Special Education Resolution Center, with the advice of the Council, will be presented to the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a recommendation for positive change.
The Dispute Resolution Committee is a special education stakeholder group that meets periodically to review ODE's due process hearing decisions, complaint resolutions, and mediation activities. The Committee also reviews Department policies & procedures related to dispute resolution and makes recommendations to the Department.
The Special Education Community Advisory Committee and Howard County Publc School System encourage and welcome parent involvement in every phase of a child's educational journey. In the area of special education, parent involvement is crucial.
The Stakeholders’ Council in Wisconsin provides an example of a strategy designed to transform a culture of conflict (fragmentation and distrust) into a culture of collaboration.
The State Advisory Panel (SAP) subcommittee for dispute resolution reviews dispute resolution data and recent due process hearing decisions. The SAP subcommittee also reviews data related to formal complaints and discusses common themes of the complaints occurring throughout the state. 

Collaborative Rulemaking was developed as an effort to build consensus among interested stakeholders regarding state special education regulations and procedures. Sometimes referred to as negotiated rulemaking or regulatory negotiations, it is an alternative to the development of rules in isolation and subsequent solicitation of input through a public process. The purpose of bringing stakeholders together is to improve understanding of diverse perspectives, to identify significant issues of concern, to generate policy options, and to develop consensus on policy recommendations reflective of stakeholder needs. Collaboration fosters creativity, increases credibility, legitimacy and trust, and facilitates the regulatory process. 

Practices:

A series of consensus-building sessions in Wisconsin with a small group of 7 stakeholders appointed by the state superintendent with the aim of trying to reach consensus on realigning Wisconsin special education law (Chapter 115) with IDEA 2004 before the bill moves forward to a public hearing.
The Maine Department of Education abandoned their traditional rule-making process when it revised the Maine Special Education Regulations to be consistent with IDEA '97. Rather than developing rules in isolation and subsequently soliciting input through a public process, the Department invited a group of stakeholders including parents, advocates and school personnel to take part in a collaborative rule-making process also known as negotiated rule making or regulatory negotiations.
The Special Education Rule Committee’s purpose is to examine Arizona Special Education State Board 401 rules, to propose rules that are clear, instructive, and aligned to the IDEA, and to provide guidance for implementation.